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Half of bus seats will be left vacant as of next week, TransLink says
Published Thursday, March 26, 2020 12:11PM PDT Last Updated Friday, March 27, 2020 12:00PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- In its latest effort to promote physical distancing, Metro Vancouver's transit provider will be blocking off some bus seats to keep passengers apart.
The move comes into effect next week. In a statement, TransLink says about half the seats on its buses will have signs on them asking people to leave them vacant.
"What the seating plan will look like is it’s going to be a diagonal, essentially. So if there is a row of two seats, one of those will be closed," said Ben Murphy, a spokesperson for TransLink.
If a bus reaches capacity based on that new guideline, it will not make any further stops. Passengers will have to wait for the next vehicle.
The service provider suggests this won't have much impact on travel times on the majority of bus routes, as there's been a significant dip in ridership due to COVID-19.
"Ridership has plummeted in the last couple of weeks," said Murphy.
TransLink has seen a 77 per cent drop in ridership so far. That number climbs to 90 per cent the West Coast Express.
Still, it recommends that anyone who relies on a busier route should plan for possible delays.
TransLink also advised those people to consider whether they actually need to take the bus, especially at rush hour.
While some have expressed concerns about transit, others say they aren't too worried.
"I'm not nervous taking the bus in the morning," said an Eileen, an accountant commuting from North Vancouver to Downtown Vancouver.
"For the last two weeks probably I've been the only one on this bus in the morning."
She says the evening commute is busier though, and she uses her purse to block off the seat next to her.
The company announced last week it was suspending bus fares, and encouraging everyone who is able to do so to use rear doors to board.
Anyone requiring mobility assistance can still get on at the front of the bus. TransLink is also putting up operator protection barriers on all of its buses - 700 are now being used throughout Metro Vancouver.
On Friday, staff began installing decals to promote physical distancing at major transit hubs.
Despite all those efforts, strangers could still be seen sitting shoulder to shoulder at bus stop benches.